I love to write.
I'm close to keying the words "The End" on the first manuscript that has potential, thanks to great mentors, classes, books, crit partners, writing friends, blogs...**News flash--as of the night before this post hit your computer--I finished!!
The question of the day is, will my beginning hook readers into turning pages?
Actually, depending on a reader's mood, the time of day, current crisis and joys, and a thousand other components like brand of chocolate, hooking a reader into our story can be a complex issue.
But, maybe today, you will gleam a helpful tool to smooth the complex into simple.
Tips to Writing a Good Hook
1. Start your story with the most intriguing situation.
For example: Say you wanted to write a story about a young woman's struggles.
The story begins: A young woman left work and is enroute to a restaurant where she plans to spend the last night with her fiancee before he is deployed. She discovers she is out of gas. She zooms into the gas station to put in a few gallons to hold her over until tomorrow.
Time to play the "what if game"
What if this story started instead with a teaser. A teen, pulls into the gas station. She hopes there is money left in her account. Jena reaches into the car to get her debit card, and suddenly feels strong labor pains. The baby wasn't due for three more weeks. Her sister and mother would arrive the next day. She had no social supports to call in the area and the only person at the gas station was the attendant who had headphones on. Jena is frightened, has no money, and doesn't know what to do.
In this case, we could start with the teen's plight, just enough to stir the reader's curiosity. Briefly build the scene with Jena's emotional conflict then break away to the woman's point of view.
For example: Angie leaves work, is caught in rush hour and notices the gas tank is on empty (she forgot to fill it that morning). Her fiancee received a call for deployment to Afghanistan. Since he would leave late that night he made reservations at the best restaurant for dinner. She stops at a gas station.
Inside the car at the pump in front of her is a female screaming. She goes to car and finds a distraught 19-year old woman. The woman shouts, "My baby is coming! Please help me." The only other person at the station is the gas attendant. I could call an ambulance and still have plenty of time to get to the restaurant. But she remembers the night her baby suddenly came, that horrible night several years ago when she was all alone ....
Now the two are brought together and the story can move forward, building conflict, growing characters, thickening subplots and deepening the overarching plot.
Igniting the perfect hook is like braiding hair or weaving yarn. It takes many pieces woven together to give a strong beginning and hold the story together. The chosen first piece rests on the bottom--not the top, it provides the underlying strength. It cannot stand alone. When the viewer sees the product the chosen first doesn't stand out. However, without the chosen first, there would not have been a hook, or a good product.
Camy Tang once mentored me with these words: "You need to start your story at __________ instead." Wow! Once I followed her instructions, my hook sounded good.
My next post, in two weeks, will continue this topic.
Have you found the perfect place to start your story?
Image by: Freedigitalphotos.net
and Mary Vee
Mary lives in Montana with her husband and loves to hear from her three college kids. She writes Christian young adult fiction (pirate tales, missionary and Bible adventure stories).
She thinks of writing as: Stepping into Someone Else's World.